The proceeds of ad fraud can be huge - the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) estimates losses of around $8.2 billion each year. For advertisers, these losses have a big impact on their profitability. For marketers, this fraud can also affect their ability to support their brands. Both marketers and publishers should care more about this digital ad fraud risk in 2017.
The potential impact of non-human traffic (NHT)
NHT represents a range of traffic to websites that is carried out by software agents rather than real people. However, this issue is not as simple to deal with as simply blocking traffic from suspicious IP addresses.
Many bots are aimed at carrying out nefarious activities spread their attacks over thousands of IP addresses, spoof their identities, and mimic human behaviour to avoid detection. They then click on adverts or interact with sites in ways that lead to fraudulent payments being made back to the bot owners.
Further complicating the matter is that NHT isn’t always bad. Some bots, such as those from Google, Bing, and content recommendation engines, are directly beneficial for both marketers and publishers as they help consumers find their sites.
For advertisers, NHT directly affects the success of their campaigns. This, in turn, forces them to audit traffic levels and ask for refunds. According to the 2017 State of Digital Publishers’ Fight Against NHT report by the 614 Group, many brands and agencies are now putting conditions around acceptable levels of NHT into their proposals with around 68% now including this measure. Meanwhile, 74% of publishers admitted that pre-sales discussions include NHT thresholds to help confirm acceptable quality standards.
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